History of the Vermont Newspaper Project

Planning Phase:

The goal of the planning phase was to prepare a strategic plan for the implementation of bibliographic control of Vermont’s domestic newspapers. The principal activities of the planning period were to survey newspaper repositories throughout the state, identify an agency and mechanism to maintain the resulting union list, increase awareness of the scope and significance of the project within the state, and produce an implementation proposal.

Funds were awarded in the spring of 1994. In June 1994 a survey was mailed to all potential newspaper repositories within the state, including public libraries, historical societies, archives, and academic librarians. Institutions that had up-to-date holdings lists were encouraged to submit them to the project; other repositories were asked to fill out a survey form listing their titles and holdings. Initial response was 73 percent, follow-up phone calls were made to repositories that did not respond and were thought to have major newspaper collections. The project was advertised to attract private collectors. Newspaper publishers were also sampled as possible resources.

Implementation Grant:

The cataloging phase of the Vermont Newspaper Project began in May of 1997 with the collections of the Vermont State Library and the Vermont Historical Society. It is estimated that these collections comprise seventy-five percent (75%) of known newspaper titles. Additional unique titles have been cataloged at various repositories around the state. Only those repositories identified as holding unique non-cataloged titles were visited. The remaining repositories were the recipients of an inventory kit designed to aid the project in obtaining complete holdings information for their respective collections. The cataloging phase was completed at the end of June of 2000. Cataloging statistics from July 1998-June 2000 are available at here.

An additional goal of the implementation grant was to create a comprehensive union list of all Vermont newspaper titles. The project provides access to the list in both electronic and print formats. To facilitate the dissemination of union list holdings information, the project developed a database. The database includes nearly 1,000 bibliographic records for Vermont newspapers that date from the 18th century to the present.  Holdings information for approximately 100 repositories throughout Vermont is also included.  A searchable version of the project database is available at http://vtnp.uvm.edu/.  A print version of the union list was also produced and distributed to all of the Vermont newspaper repositories who participated in the Project.

Microfilming Grant:

Preparation for the microfilming phase of the project began in July 1998. A candidate title list was created by comparing a list of hardcopy newspaper holdings from the Department of Libraries, the Vermont Historical Society, the University of Vermont, and survey participants with a list of microfilmed newspaper holdings from the same institutions. The candidate list included 515 titles totaling approximately 267,000 pages. Using this list, a retrieval work plan was developed for the state. The Project received funding through the end of August 2001 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to complete the microfilming phase of the project.

Digitization Grant:

Planning for digitization of Vermont’s historical newspapers began in August 2009. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)  awarded funding in June 2010 to support the Vermont Digital Newspaper Project (VTDNP) as part of the  National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).  The UVM Libraries are working collaboratively with partners at the Vermont Department of Libraries, the Ilsley Public Library of Middlebury, and the Vermont Historical Society to select, digitize, and make available over 100,000 pages of Vermont newspapers published between 1836 and 1922. The VTDNP has already made available over 20,000 free, fully searchable Vermont newspaper pages online. A statewide Advisory Committee of archivists, librarians, curators, researchers, historians, and educators guided the selection of titles. The process was fair and scientific, utilizing a ranking system based on clear slection criteria. The Advisory Committee selected titles from 10 of Vermont’s 14 counties. The title selections for the intial VTDNP grant include The Vermont Farmer (1870-1877), The Rutland Herald (1836-1854), the weekly edition of the Burlington Free Press (1836-1920), The Vermont Phoenix (1836-1922), Rutland Daily Globe (1873-1877), Vermont Transcript (1864-1868), Windham County Democrat (1837-1853), Watchman and State Journal family (1845-1910), Middlebury Register title family (1837-1922), Spirit of the Age title family (1840-1911), and portions of the Bennington Banner (1877-1905) and St. Johnsbury Caledonian title family (1837-1918). Should the VTDNP receive additional grants from the National Digital Newspaper Program, more pages will be digitized from the Caledonian and Banner titles, and other titles will be selected for those grants. The digitized newspapers are freely available to the public via the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America database.